In February 2014, YOB signed with Neurosis’s record label Neurot Recordings and Clearing the Path to Ascend is the band’s eighth full length album and the first one released with the american label. On paper Clearing the Path to Ascend is another heavy doom release, like the brilliant ones from Conan, Earth, Monolord, or Electric Wizard that are making this year very special for those of us that like this kind of music. But the band from Eugene, Oregon, does something more and manages to use similar heavy slow tempos and low-tuned guitars that are typical of the genre, whilst adding introspective and psychedelic soundscapes to it, creating a sound that is absolutely distinctive and mind blowing.
YOB is a trio made up of rockers Aaron Riesnberg, Travis Foster, and Mike Scheidt.
They started their career with the massive Sabbathian riffs of Elaborations of Carbon in 2001 – apart from the band’s first demo, titled YOB of 1999 – and from there each record delivered music with the same basic characteristics, but always adding something more confirming the fact that they are more than just doom-metal fanatics and this new record Clearing the Path to Ascend will satisfy all fans of guitar driven stoner rock and monolithic riffs.
To be precise the YOB fits partially into nearly half a dozen interconnected subgenres: psychedelic rock, stoner rock, stoner metal, blues metal, and, most consistently, doom metal. As I’m typing my review of the new record I’m on my fourth straight listen and I do believe that Clearing the Path to Ascend is very good and, in most aspects, it bests Atma, the band’s previous release.
Clearing the Path to Ascend is a four-song album that clocks in 63 minutes of skull crushing heavy grooves and guitars that will bring you away when played at high volume.
As the doom metal tradition requires, the tracks are quite lengthy, with the shortest one clocking in at almost eleven-and-a-half minutes while the longest is just under nineteen minutes. Fans of the trio will find here all the elements that are usually associated with YOB, but now they are in mellower and more introspective soundscapes.
Opening song “In Our Blood”- that kicks off with vocals saying “Time to wake up”- instantly takes the listener to the YOB music world that we expect. The sound is so huge that I feel dwarfed in its presence. The drum and bass combine into one massive sledgehammer, pounding me further and further into a stoned oblivion.
Something changes with the following song “Nothing To Win” where Scheidt’s vocals are more dynamic and almost melodic.
The start of this track is glorious and if you close your eyes you’ll start moving following the rhythm. It has the power to get under your skin. The first two tracks are a beautiful heavy voyage taking you straight into space, and we are just in the middle of this new exciting adventure. The next track “Unmask The Spectre” is as heavy as fuck and very captivating. This song is just incredibly dark with unique riffing. When you think that YOB couldn’t get any better they deliver “Marrow” and the only thing you can do is to lay down and let the music wrap you. “Marrow” starts off with a delicate, sublime post-rock intro that remains constant throughout the 19 minutes of the song accompanying the melodic vocals. This is a gorgeous final track of a gorgeous, epic album.
With Clearing the Path to Ascend, YOB have created a future classic and memorable album. In my opinion it’s their best album yet. I highly recommend this band for anyone looking for something extreme, but very in-depth.